No police action for Hazard after kicking at ball boy
Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 07:22 AM
Eden Hazard has escaped police action after his unsavoury kick at a Swansea ball boy, but the Chelsea midfielder must wait to see what action the Football Association may take against him.
The incident overshadowed the goalless draw in the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final at the Liberty Stadium, which saw Swansea progress to the first major final in their history thanks to a 2-0 aggregate win.
It happened just over 10 minutes from time when Hazard lost patience as the ball boy who, it is understood, is the son of Swansea director Martin Morgan, refused to hand over the ball after it had gone out of play for a goal-kick.
The ball boy fell to the ground as Hazard attempted to get the ball from him, with the Blues forward then trying to kick it from under him but appearing to instead make contact with the youngster.
Several Chelsea players went to tend to the ball boy, who was left holding his ribs, before referee Chris Foy produced a red card.
The ball boy was taken down the tunnel but is unhurt.
The Belgium international issued an apology through Chelsea TV after the match, claiming he felt he had kicked the ball rather than the ball boy.
He said: "The boy put his whole body onto the ball and I was just trying to kick the ball and I think I kicked the ball and not the boy. I apologise.
"The ball boy came in the changing room and we had a quick chat and I apologised and the boy apologised as well, and it is over. Sorry."
The 21-year-old could yet face a lengthy ban, though it is unlikely to be comparable to the nine months Manchester United's Eric Cantona missed after the most high-profile incident of a similar vein in recent years, his infamous kung-fu kick at a Crystal Palace fan in 1995.
In a further twist to the controversy Charlie Morgan, the ball boy in question, had posted on his Twitter account just hours before the game: "The king of all ball boys is back making his final appearance #needed #for #timewasting".
And he appeared to suggest he had only been asked to work at the game due to the heavy snow in south Wales preventing someone else getting there.
"Haven't been doing it this season been ask to come back to run them because the person can't come in cos of the snow #manager", his tweet read.
His Twitter account had swelled to almost 50,000 followers after the game.
But a Swansea spokesman confirmed no further action would be taken by the 17-year-old over the incident, and revealed he had spoken to Hazard in the Chelsea dressing room.
"The police have interviewed the boy and his father and there are no charges going to be pressed, as far as they are concerned that is the matter closed," he said.
"The ball boy has been into the Chelsea dressing room after the game and shaken hands with Eden Hazard. The likes of John Terry and Frank Lampard were exemplary in their behaviour in welcoming him into the dressing room.
"Chelsea asked if he could come in and our kit lady took him in and they shook hands, he is fine."
Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez said that Hazard's actions would be dealt with internally by the club, but it is another blow to the London club's reputation in a season already including the John Terry racism scandal, the Mark Clattenburg affair and the unpopular sacking of Roberto Di Matteo.
Benitez reacted angrily when he was accused of attempting to condone Hazard's actions.
"I do not know what you expect from me," he said. "Do you think we are not disappointed with the situation, that we do not regret what happened? Do you think they have not apologised? They have done it so what can we do now? Do you want to change things? We cannot.
"The player spoke to the boy and he said sorry because it was a mistake. We know it was a mistake but we talked with the player and the boy so what do you expect?
"The boy was with us in the dressing room and everybody was clear and we know there was a mistake."
The incident completely overshadowed Swansea's achievement, but manager Michael Laudrup refused to criticise Hazard.
He said: "Obviously I know that will take some headlines but with a situation like that you have to try and understand what is going through the head of the one committing the offence.
"I can understand when you are frustrated and your pulse is high and you just want the ball, and in this case there is a ball boy who keeps the ball.
"Up to a certain point I can understand it but there are certain things you can never do, you can never kick another person but I am sure when he (Hazard) sees those images he will regret it."
But the Dane praised his side for creating history and setting up a Wembley meeting with Bradford.
"To be in a final for the first time is fantastic," he said. "If you add that we have beaten the European champions over two legs then it is incredible.
"There were times when they have dominated but that's what you expect, they had chances but the way we started gave me the belief we would do it."
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